Drupal VM can be used with Docker instead of or in addition to Vagrant:

  • You can quickly install a Drupal site (any version) using the official geerlingguy/drupal-vm image.
  • You can build a customized local instance using Docker, pulling the official geerlingguy/drupal-vm image.
  • You can 'bake your own' customized Drupal VM Docker image and reuse it or share it with your team.

Docker support is currently experimental, so unless you're already familiar with Docker, it might be best to wait until later versions of Drupal VM are released with more stable support.

Managing your hosts file

Before using Docker to run Drupal VM, you should edit your hosts file and add the following line:  drupalvm.test

(Substitute the IP address and domain name you'd like to use to access your Drupal VM container.)

You can also add other subdomains if you're using other built-in services, e.g. adminer.drupalvm.test, xhprof.drupalvm.com, etc.

If you're using Docker for Mac, you need to perform one additional step to ensure you can access Drupal VM using a unique IP address:

  1. Add an alias IP address on the loopback interface: sudo ifconfig lo0 alias
  2. When you're finished using the container, delete the alias: sudo ifconfig lo0 -alias (or restart your Mac).

You'll have to create the alias again after restarting your Mac. See this Docker (moby) issue for more details.

Method 1: Get a quick Drupal site installed with Drupal VM's Docker image

If you just want a quick, easy Drupal site for testing, you can run an instance of Drupal VM and install Drupal inside using the provided script.

  1. Run an instance of Drupal VM: docker run -d -v /sys/fs/cgroup:/sys/fs/cgroup:ro -p 80:80 -p 443:443 --name=drupalvm --privileged geerlingguy/drupal-vm
  2. Install Drupal on this instance: docker exec drupalvm install-drupal (you can choose a version using install-drupal [version], using versions like 9.x-dev or 8.x-dev).

You should be able to access the Drupal site at http://localhost. If you need to share a host directory into the VM, you can do so by adding another -v parameter, like `-v /path/on/host:/path/in/container.

If you only need a container to run your site, and you want to package up the container configuration with your project, you can add a Docker Compose file to your project's docroot like the following:

version: "3"


    image: geerlingguy/drupal-vm
    container_name: myproject
      - 80:80
      - 443:443
    privileged: true
      - ./:/var/www/drupalvm/drupal/web/:rw,delegated
      - /var/lib/mysql
      - /sys/fs/cgroup:/sys/fs/cgroup:ro
    command: /lib/systemd/systemd

Then, run docker-compose up -d to bring up the container.

For an example use of the simple approach for a contributed module's local development environment, see the Honeypot module, where this approach was added in Add local test environment configuration.

If you need more flexibility, though, you use one of the other Docker container methods on this page.

Method 2: Build a default Drupal VM instance with Docker

The geerlingguy/drupal-vm image on Docker Hub contains a pre-built copy of Drupal VM, with all the latest Drupal VM defaults. If you need to quickly run your site in a container, or don't need to customize any of the components of Drupal VM, you can use this image.

For a reference installation that has configuration for running the local environment on either Vagrant or Docker, see the Drupal VM Live Site Repository.

(Optional) Add a Dockerfile for customization

If you need to make small changes to the official drupal-vm image (instead of baking your own fully-custom image), you can create a Dockerfile to make those changes. In one site's example, ImageMagick was required for some media handling functionality, and so the following Dockerfile was placed in the project's root directory (alongside the docker-compose.yml file):

FROM geerlingguy/drupal-vm:latest
LABEL maintainer="Jeff Geerling"

# Install imagemagick.
RUN apt-get install -y imagemagick

EXPOSE 80 443 3306 8025

You can customize the official image in many other ways, but if you end up doing more than a step or two in a Dockerfile, it's probably a better idea to 'bake your own' Drupal VM Docker image.

Add a docker-compose.yml file

Copy the example.docker-compose.yml file out of Drupal VM (or grab a copy from GitHub here), rename it docker-compose.yml, and place it in your project root.

  • If you are using your own Dockerfile to further customize Drupal VM, comment out the image: drupal-vm line, and uncomment the build: . line (this tells Docker Compose to build a new image based on your own Dockerfile).

For the volume: definition in docker-compose.yml, Drupal VM's default docroot is /var/www/drupalvm/drupal/web, which follows the convention of a typical Drupal project built with Composer. If you don't get your site when you attempt to access Drupal VM, you will either need to modify the volume: definition to match your project's structure, or use a custom Dockerfile and copy in a customized Apache vhosts.conf file.

You should also add a volume for MySQL data, otherwise MySQL may not start up correctly. By default, you should have a volume for /var/lib/mysql (no need to sync it locally). See Drupal VM's example docker-compose file for reference.

Run Drupal VM

Run the command docker-compose up -d (the -d tells docker-compose to start the containers and run in the background).

This command takes the instructions in the Docker Compose file and does two things:

  1. Creates a custom Docker network that exposes Drupal VM on the IP address you have configured in docker-compose.yml (by default,
  2. Runs Drupal VM using the configuration in docker-compose.yml.

After the Drupal VM container is running, you should be able to see the Dashboard page at the VM's IP address (e.g., and you should be able to access your site at the hostname you have configured in your hosts file (e.g. http://drupalvm.test/).

Note: If you see Drupal's installer appear when accessing the site, that means the codebase was found, but either the database connection details are not in your local site configuration, or they are, but you don't have the default database populated yet. You may need to load in the database either via drush sql-sync or by importing a dump into the container. The default credentials are drupal and drupal for username and password, and drupal for the database name.

You can stop the container with docker-compose stop (and start it again with docker-compose start), or remove all the configuration with docker-compose down (warning: this will also wipe out the database and other local container modifications).

Using Drush inside Docker

Currently, the easiest way to use Drupal VM's drush inside a Docker container is to use docker exec to run drush internally. There are a few other ways you can try to get Drush working with a codebase running on a container, but the easiest way is to run a command like:

docker exec drupal-vm bash -c "drush --uri=drupalvm.test --root=/var/www/drupalvm/drupal/web status"

Method 3: 'Bake and Share' a custom Drupal VM Docker image

If you need a more customized Drupal VM instance, it's best to build your own with Drupal VM's built-in Docker scripts.

Building ('baking') a Docker container with Drupal VM

After you've configured your Drupal VM settings in config.yml and other configuration files, run the following command to create and provision a new Docker container:

composer docker-bake

This will bake a Docker images using Drupal VM's default settings for distro, IP address, hostname, etc. You can override these options (all are listed in the provisioning/docker/bake.sh file) by prepending them to the composer command:

DRUPALVM_IP_ADDRESS='' DISTRO='debian10' composer docker-bake

This process can take some time (it should take a similar amount of time as it takes to build Drupal VM normally, using Vagrant and VirtualBox), and at the end, you should see a message like:

PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
localhost                  : ok=210  changed=94   unreachable=0    failed=0


Visit the Drupal VM dashboard:

Once the build is complete, you can view the dashboard by visiting the URL provided.

Saving the Docker container to an image

If you are happy with the way the container was built, you can run the following command to convert the container into an image:

composer docker-save-image

You can override the default values for the image creation by overriding the following three variables inside config.yml:

docker_container_name: drupal-vm
docker_image_name: drupal-vm
docker_image_path: ~/Downloads

Using the default settings, this command will tag your current version of the container as drupal-vm:latest (on your local computer), then store an archive of the image in an archive file, in the path "docker_image_path/docker_image_name.tar.gz".

Loading the Docker container from an image

On someone else's computer (or your own, if you have deleted the existing drupal-vm image), you can load an archived image by placing it in the path defined by "docker_image_path/docker_image_name.tar.gz" in your config.yml file. To do this, run the command:

composer docker-load-image

Using a baked Drupal VM image with docker-compose.yml

Drupal VM includes an example.docker-compose.yml file. To use the file, copy it to docker-compose.yml and customize as you see fit, making sure to change the image to the value of docker_image_name (the default is drupal-vm). Once you've configured the exposed ports and settings as you like, run the following command to bring up the network and container(s) according to the compose file:

docker-compose up -d

(The -d tells docker-compose to start the containers and run in the background.) You can stop the container with docker-compose stop (and start it again with docker-compose start), or remove all the configuration with docker-compose down (warning: this will also wipe out the database and other local container modifications).